True heroes are a bit like icebergs. Aside from their ability to disrupt the largest titans of their industry, there is often more going on below the surface than you can see.
Earlier this Yellow Rocket Concepts announced that they would do various rewards for visitors donating to the Red Cross by way of free food at their restaurants. In addition they offered to donate 10% of all sales to support tornado victims. On the surface it sounded nice, but what was really going on with this group is much more amazing.
“To be honest we had a hard debate on if we should promote the donation rewards or not,”marketer Amber Brewer told us. “We really did not want it to come across as promoting ourselves. However we knew that we could effectively almost double the impact of our 10% contribution by encouraging people to donate.”
Yellow Rocket Concepts was able to give $4,275 through the visitor donations in addition to their 10%. To some 10% may not seem like a lot, but for restaurants locally sourcing food and paying fair wages to employees, they are often making far less than 20% profit from sales.
However after talking to the owners, giving up well over half their profits was not the iceberg, it was just the part we all could see.
I noticed Tuesday that Local Lime owner Ben Brainard posted a very cryptic message about going to Faulkner County to “do some good”. I gave him a call and found the rest of the iceberg.
“Our manager at Local Lime, John Kilgore, came to me asking if it would be alright if we loaded up some food from Local Lime and take it to Mayflower, I said of course and we took a truck full and took 3 other employees with me who volunteered,” Brainard said. “When we got to the staging area I started asking what all they need, they said bug spray. I went back and bought every single can of bug spray I could find.”
Kilgore’s parents lived in a community that lost over 50% of the homes. Kilgore’s parent’s house was spared but was moved after seeing the destruction to many of their friends and neighbors.
“When we got out there I noticed there was a hispanic community that was really struggling because they had no clue how to even ask for support, they were being completely overlooked,” Brainard tells us. “They had a hispanic woman running the staging area who had no real leadership skills other than she was one of the only bilingual people they could find.”
Ben decided to focus his efforts to helping this under served community. Despite police trying to turn people away because of the large amount of damage, He spent the day with the community attempting to address any needs possible.
“It was completely catastrophic. I know that is cliché but there is no other word to describe it,” Brainard said, noticeably tearing up. “These people had nothing. No house, and no insurance to rebuild. Literally the only things remaining after the storm came from people volunteering their time and money to these communities. Everyone able should do something, there are a million ways people of central Arkansas can contribute.”
Ben is not the only member of Yellow Rocket Concepts going out of his way to contribute. The ZaZa’s locations have loaded up hundreds of pizzas in addition to providing free food for any official volunteers who enter their restaurants.
“The other thing we have is that so many of our workers want to volunteer,” Brewer tells us.”It is our all-star workers who are stepping up to the plate. The ones who work double shifts and answer every call in. It is a serious impact to all of our restaurants, but we don’t care. We are so inspired by their commitment to help others.”
All of the restaurants are trying to work on creative ways to allow employees to take time out of their day to volunteer to help the communities.
“Unfortunately we legally cannot pay them to go volunteer due to liability issues,” Brewer says. “We are actively looking into ways to somehow compensate or reward employees who want to take time to help. We have no restaurants in any of these places hit, but they are still our community and we will give everything we possibly can to help.”
Ben has returned to the Mayflower community several times since Tuesday and hopes to take a number of employees who volunteered with him this Saturday to continue the efforts.
You see, true heroes rarely are alone. They build communities, and sometimes companies around them. They not only inspire the people they hire to do better, but those who they come in contact with every day. The ones who eat their meals and buy their products. They make the world better not because they boast about their sacrifices, but because they know a sacrifice is an iceberg, you rarely see the magnitude of it all.